When members of the older generation speak about present challenges facing Nigeria, they do it from a place of regret. One of their signature remarks is how they pin the ills of the youths, is how spineless they are, often evoking memories of how they faced military regimes head on and took on a ruthless dictator like Sani Abacha.
In another signature condescension, the age old saying that the new generation lacks respect for elders is as contradictory as it is antithetical to any notion of forced activism they may want to emotionally blackmail young people into.
The #EndSars protests that have lately shaken Nigeria and the globe is one of the defining moments of Nigeria’s history, given our litany of docility since the advent of the fourth republic in 1999. Before now, only three protests have seen this involvement of youths in so massive a scale: the 2010 Save Nigeria Protest at the disappearance of then President Umaru Yar’adua; Occupy Nigeria protest of 2012 against the removal of fuel subsidy; and the Bring Back Our Girls campaign of 2014.
Between 2014 and 2020, six years and so many other things have passed. The question a curious person would ask is that, seeing that insecurity and economic fortunes-amongst other things-have worsened since then, why has there not been a corresponding social unrest?
The answer to this question that bears a common denominator, is President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired major-general who had led the country with an iron fist between 1983 and 1985. It is common knowledge that democracy and democratic norms have eroded significantly since 2015, and the use of brute force to disperse peaceful protesters is a testament to this fact.
To digress, the reaction of people in the older generation who are yet to have a member of their families as victims of police brutality is sickening. Even for me who have had a close shave with these murderous officers, explaining the need for the protest to my septuagenarian grandmother was a battle I did not think would be this hard to undertake. With her uncharacteristic dismissal of the protests and excuses for police officers perpetrating abuses on account of improper dressing because of my beards, the reaction is pinged on the variables of moral high ground arising from the lethargy that age comes with.
For a generation that had Nigeria handed to them on a golden platter who decidedly ran it aground with a civil war and two economic recessions, they have a whole lot to say about the future. The same people who turned around to vote in a military dictator for president five years ago do not possess any standing to talk about how the youths of this age should behave.
And so, while the end to the social malaise is not anywhere in sight, it feels good that the much maligned “Indomie generation” who did not inherit the silence of their parents are doing something to challenge social norms irrespective of the obstacles placed in their journey by actions of old. This is an ode to the Nigerian youth.